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How to Track a Forwarded Domain in Google Analytics

How do you track a vanity URL in Google Analytics? Answer: You're going to use tracking code.

Ally Bootsma

Ally Bootsma

Jr. Inbound Marketing Expert

If you’re using a vanity URL for a marketing campaign, you want to make sure you’re tracking all those sweet leads in Google Analytics. 

There are two common situations in which you want to track a vanity URL:

  1.  You’re using a vanity URL in some offline media and want to track how many people came to the site via those campaigns.
  2.  You’re using a vanity URL online in various campaigns and want to track how many people came to the site via those       campaigns.

Usually, people set up a vanity URL and then forward that domain to the live website. That’s easy to do and it gets the traffic from point A to point B, but does it work to collect data? 

Do Forwarded Domains Show as Referrals in Google Analytics?

The answer is sometimes. Forwarded domains can show as referrers in Google Analytics, but sometimes that traffic just shows as Direct traffic in analytics. If you don’t really feel the need to track the domain, then a straight domain forward will work, but you're a marketer worth your salt and you want to prove it, so here's how.

Tracking Vanity URLs in Google

Using a Tagged URL for Tracking Vanity URLs

This is the easiest way to track how many people are coming to the site via your vanity URL or forwarded domain.

  1.  Create your tracking URL. You can use Google’s tracking URL builder, Raven’s tracking URL builder, the custom tracking URL
    builder in your CMS (if you’re using a tool like HubSpot), or any other way you prefer.
  2.  Forward your vanity URL to your new tracking URL. In your domain registrar you can specify where you want the domain to redirect to; put in your full tracking URL there.
  3.  Test! Visit the vanity URL. Does it redirect properly? Is it showing up in Analytics? Get familiar with digging into the different reports to find that data. You can also set up a custom dashboard, a custom data segment, etc. to easily pick out this traffic from the rest.

And that’s it!

Questions? Unique scenarios that this doesn’t work for? Leave a comment and let us know!

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